India's political fraternity and its political establishment seem to be infected with a strange and overpowering virus. Even highly intellectual, idealistic and well meaning individuals on entering the Indian political milieu with a burning desire to change India's moral fiber and social fabric for the good and in synergy with India's aspirational goals to emerge as a key global power, soon feel prey to this political virus. It is so debilitating that the best of intentions dissipate and the will to transform India falls prostrate to the over-riding Indian political malaise of casteist vote-banks, minority vote-banks and low level politics where everything is fair and the end justifies the means. And ,the end being to stick to the political chair and political power at any cost.
This seems to have been the case with the present Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh too. India welcomed the appointment of Dr Singh as Prime Minister two years back as a renowned economist committed to transform India and put India on the fast track to progress. After two years in office, Dr Singh can no longer be given the benefit of being fettered by the curious circumstances of his unexpected ascendancy to Prime Ministership, his lack of a political base of his own and the compulsion of coalition politics.
The list of constitutional and political improprieties that the Congress Government under his stewardship, though not under his control, has been endless. His Government has been in a hop, skip and jump from one political controversy to another. India can live with tainted Ministers in his Government, with his appointed Governors indulging in constitutional violations and the shielding of political corruption cases like that of Ottavio Quatrochhi or the Volcker case both involving people close to the centre of power.
But an India that is on the move has no patience to give the benefit of doubt to India's Prime Minister who dittoes and seconds socially and economically retrograde measures like the present reservations controversy in India's institutes of higher learning and excellence and Indian Muslim minority-centric legislation. Further, last week extending the controversy to reservations in the private sector jobs. All this smacks of political opportunism and not reformist zeal, the label he sought and the label that progressive India bestowed on him.
Prime Ministers are supposed to lead and not be led. They need to motivate the nation towards progress and not be a party to regression which patently the reservation game is.
The thrust is not social betterment but political survival of the Congress Party. Most disturbing is that whenever constitutional or political crises have taken place the first impulsive reaction is that the Prime Minister's Office distances itself from the issue, and then the Congress Party spokespersons distance the Party from the Government on the plea that it is a coalition Government. Where does then India look for political accountability?
It is seldom being realized that with each passing day all that is happening is making a serious dent in the Prime Minister's image. His credibility to transform India is taking a beating. India's remarkable progress so far has been made possible by an excellence and merit based system and not by the reservations based segment. In a globalized highly competitive system the salience and demands on excellence and merit would be that much more and especially where our India's rising power rests crucially on a knowledge-based economy.
In view of the above, the Indian Prime Minister's metamorphosis from a 'reformist' to a 'reservationist' is disappointing to the vastly increasing progressive segment in India. The intellectual in him should surely be protesting vehemently on the political takeover of his personality .